19 December 2009

all aboard!

the snow is falling outside the window. packages are sent. the tree is lovingly decorated with what cosmo calls "ordaments." we are settling into our first christmas together, at home. our home.

cosmo and i took an exciting trip to north texas, to have an early christmas with family there. cosmo returned loaded down with gifts, candy, and stories (told breathlessly) of an indoor water park, a magic wand game,

and a frozen town of whoville. not to mention his first ever sighting of an actual falling star! we got to star gaze out at nani and papa's place in the country, during a meteor shower. unforgettable.

we also now have in our possession a copy of the polar express (the movie, not the book). this has been a favorite of cosmo's, viewed over and over again, every time we visit nani and papa. cosmo doesn't really watch movies. most of them are too scary for him, or too long, too dialog heavy to hold his interest. he really clicked with the polar express though, the first time he saw it, and was not frightened by the hair-raising roller coaster scenes. i think the fact that there is no evil bad guy makes a big difference too. cosmo's understanding of santa is that "it's just a story," but, it is a really engaging story, and the polar express presents a convincing image of the whole operation. last night, in celebration of the last day of pre-school (breaking for the holidays), we had our first ever "family movie night." we watched polar express. carl had never seen it, and cosmo wanted to make sure he didn't miss a single second of it. then he would tell carl what was gonna happen next, and occasionally, we'd look over at him, and he'd be mouthing the words, as if he had the whole thing memorized.

to counter the full-on indoctrination into christmas, this year, i thought it would be nice to acknowledge channuka too. i crafted a simple menorah out of a nice chunk of cedar, and found some channuka candles at cvs. cosmo lit the candles each night, and we sang "o channuka." we played the dreidel game a few nights, after dinner, and on the last night, i made latkes, which we ate in front of the TV, while watching polar express. how's that for blending traditions?

[updated, january 4, 2010-- my computer is back in my lap, and here are the photos] soon, i'll post something about holiday crafting, once everyone has received their gifts.

season's greetings to you and yours!

05 December 2009

shop local!

before you start clicking items off your holiday list on amazon, consider heading downtown to your local book shop, (if there are any left in your town, that is). we are lucky, here in bloomington, to have a number of great ones, including an all volunteer run, non-profit--boxcar books!

i had a few titles on my list, that i wanted to get for some children in our family. i started to order them online, and then i remembered that the book corner, on the square, will give a 10% discount if your total exceeds twelve dollars, and 20%, if you spend over sixty dollars. if they don't have what you are looking for, they will order it for you, lickity split. plus, you get to interact with real people, browse through books (with pages), and bump into friends and neighbors on the street.

support local booksellers! keep downtown vibrant! shop local!
ok, i'll stop telling you what to do now.

21 November 2009

birthday boy

we had a little birthday party for cosmo at PDO (parent's day out, his pre-school) yesterday. later, at bath time...
cosmo: i was quiet at PDO today.
carl: oh yeah, why's that?
cosmo: because i was so famous.

10 November 2009


tom waits has a song about it.
many significant, life changing events have occurred for me, in the month of november. one year, my apartment caught on fire, and i had to move out. oh, and four years ago, in november, i had a baby! this november, i'm writing 50,000 words in thirty days. i have my doubts that the collection of letters, arranged into words, placed together haphazardly into sentences, over the next few weeks, is going to resemble anything close to what anyone would call a novel, but at least i'll have something to work with. i'll have 50k words that i didn't have before. and, i must say, i love nanowrimo. it's just the kick in the pants i needed to get this crazy story onto the page. i am writing every day, over 2000 words, and i am not editing. i am not reading what i have written. ahhh. it is so freeing.

cosmo had fun trick-or-treating, but seems to enjoy, even more, playing with the candy. he likes to sort it, arrange it, catapult it with a yard stick, move it from one container to another, build with boxes of dots and milk duds, toss laffy-taffy into a cut-out flap in a card board box, count hershey's kisses, and make letters out of skinny tootsie rolls. he never eats any without permission, and when he is allowed to have a piece or two, he just can't. decide. which. one. he wants. so, we showed him how to do "eeny meeny miney mo," "bubble gum, bubble gum, in a dish," and "engine engine number nine," so that the decision making is left to chance. he loves this process, and will line up six (or nine, or thirty-seven) pieces of halloween candy, and then, through a long, arduous process of elimination, pick the one piece he will have. he alternates between the three rhymes, and says, "the one that wins, i will eat." he is always thrilled with the winner, even if a milkyway gets eliminated in the first round, and the piece left standing is one, solitary dot. i love the way he says, "MY mother says to pick the VERY best one, and YOU are not IT!"

speaking of tootsie rolls, cosmo looked better in my borrowed costume than i did, but he couldn't walk in it-- just roll. i loved the costume though, for its ease. no make up, no wig, no special clothes, just put it on, and you have an instant, and rather impressive, costume. "cheers!" to whomever crafted it, and "thanks!" to my good neighbors for letting me wear it. cosmo's ghostly cheesecloth kept drifting off his hoodie, but he didn't seem to care, one way or another. the costume was incidental to him. he still can't get over the fact that one day a year, you go out at night, knock on people's doors, they open them, and hand you candy. how can this be? he doesn't run around excitedly, but rather wanders from house to house, sort of stunned, and amazed. he says his obligatory "thank-you," but no smiles. carl called his own, last-minute costume "the haunted shepherd," he was wearing a sheep-herder's hat, from kyrgyzstan.

back at home, we were greeted by these jack-o-lanterns that cosmo and i made out of plastic water bottles. i hope to do a tutorial on those, in another post.

we checked out an awesome book from the library called "applesauce season." it's all about making applesauce, which is something carl especially loves to do. so this time, we got cosmo involved in it from start to finish, including picking out the apples at the farmer's market, and running the cooked apples through the food mill. he really got into it, in part, i suspect, because it is one of his favorite foods.

cosmo has been surprising us, on a regular basis, with his reading skills. i catch myself saying, "you can read that? so, you're a reader? you read now? okay then..." and, i have been saying this for months and months. i guess i have to face the fact that he's learning to read! very exciting. i have even seen him in his room, quietly turning the pages, and reading simple books, all the way through. gasp! he seems to get a lot of satisfaction from it, and tries to read words everywhere we go. he also made a huge leap last week, in his grasp of addition and subtraction. it started with one of the pbs kids games he plays online, but he needed help. i grabbed 5 pens, and showed him how to figure out the answer to a simple addition problem, using the pens, and counting. he was absolutely giddy when he got it. witnessing his little brain grow and expand is one of the greatest pleasures of my life.

(that's 813 words, FYI)

31 October 2009

last gasp

a honey bee gathers the last of the nectar from the asters

i guess i titled one of my gardening blog posts "last gasp" last year. sorry, but that's what it feels like around here. last burst of gardening energy, before winter sets in, and a mish-mash of a blog post, to cover a lot of ground before i dive into national novel writing month, tonight at midnight.

Add Image
the last cosmo of the season and the view from our window, one week ago.

let's start with the garden:
the rye cover crop is now a lovely green blanket over what was once the sprawling cherry tomato bed. we are still plucking perfect tomatillos off the vine, and i have made two batches of salsa verde (for canning) and countless batches of quick fresh green salsa. and still, there's more.

i've been enjoying the herbs we still have flourishing in the garden, and was astonished at the bounty i brought in last week, as i was preparing dinner for some friends. not all of our fall carrots have matured, but some have, and they are lovely. we are cherishing the last of the beets. the candy-striped ones are called chioggia.

we harvested another armload of leeks and made the memorable leek and goat cheese galette. since another blogger has already documented this process beautifully, i won't repeat it here. this time, i chose to make 4 individual galettes, instead of one big one. it looks so lovely on the plate, surrounded by a wreath of fresh water-cress. since it was just for carl and i (cosmo rarely eats what we eat for dinner), we got two full meals out of it. i think this might be my favorite dish right now. at least my favorite of dishes that come out of our kitchen. and i swear it tastes better with leeks, thyme and parsley from our own garden.

in other garden news, my friend stephanie, garden-educator-extraordinaire, taught me how to create our newest garden bed. first i spread out some cardboard, then a layer of our compost, a thicker layer of leaf-mold from last year's autumn leaves, then a layer of straw. it took me a couple of hours to complete, and it's huge! cosmo had a lot of fun "helping" me. in the spring, we'll dig some holes for transplants, add a little compost or soil to each hole, and that's it. the following year, it should all be broken down, and soil-like, and can just be dug and worked like our other garden beds. i am so thrilled.

we still have lettuce, arugula, and a tiny bit of spinach, which i hope will over-winter with some straw on top. apparently the carrots can stay in the ground too, with a layer of mulch, and they'll come back in the spring.

on to gleaning, and other topics:
we ended up making pear fruit leather, and a pear/cranberry chutney for canning, with the rest of our gleaned pears. one of our neighbors has a particularly nice crab apple tree, with large fruit, that tastes good right off the tree. she told us to help ourselves, and we did.

nothing like starting the morning trimming little tiny apples. but aren't they beautiful?

then carl made this glowing jelly while i was busy shopping at the free swap out at bloomingfoods (they used the truckload-sale-tent to house a glorious exchange of useful stuff, all free of charge! crazy, huh?). there was a littlecrab apple juice left over--tart, and nectar-like. we sipped it from tiny crystal goblets.

take a gander at that incredible tromboncino squash! it was a gift from our neighbor jack, whose son is a farmer. they say you can use it just like butternut, but i found it to be more stringy and watery than a butternut, and lacking in that brilliant orange color. the soup-in-progress (shown below) features a true butternut, and a garden herb bundle.

i managed to get the basement into a somewhat presentable and inhabitable space--in time for our housewarming party, and in time for the crafting frenzy, which has already begun. since some potential recipients of my creations may read this blog, i cannot reveal all the particulars of the crafted goodies that are being churned out of this space, but after the holidays, i'll try to do a re-cap.

we took a short drive to the hoosier national forest last weekend, to climb the fire tower for the ultimate autumnal view. i failed to bring the camera to the top of the tower, but my wimpy little lens wouldn't have even come close to capturing that spectacular vista-- so, it's probably better left to the imagination. cosmo enjoyed the short nature walk, and the lady bug explosion that happens here every fall.

cosmo was down for a few days with some virus, other than the flu. it was quite mild, and luckily, he's over it in time for halloween. hope yours is fun.